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Conditions

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis

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This unfortunate but by no means unusual condition can leave a lady’s downstairs smelling like a fish market. The cause is simple enough – it’s all down to an imbalance of naturally occurring bacteria in the vagina. The vagina should have a certain amount of lactobacilli (lactic acid bacteria), which makes the vagina slightly acidic and prevents other bacteria from growing in the area. If the vagina is not as acidic as it should be, you can get an abnormal discharge and an unpleasant, fishy smell coming from the area. The type of discharge usually associated with Bacterial Vaginosis is watery and grey or white in colour. However, for around half of the women with the condition it is symptomless.

Bacterial Vaginosis has been linked to an increased risk of getting STIs, and also premature births among pregnant women. Antibiotics are the main treatment, but in a quarter of cases the condition can recur, so sufferers may have to be patient and try a couple of different types. Your GP may ask you to take tablets or use a cream to be applied directly to the vagina, or a combination of the two. Between 12 and 30% of women in the UK will have bacterial vaginosis at some point in their lives, and it’s important to remember that if you have the condition it doesn’t mean you are dirty or unclean. In fact, washing the area too much can make the problem worse.

Watch the Live from the Clinic interactive case video on bacterial vaginosis >

Comments and Questions

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Hi, Ive had thrush before so thought that is what I have now. I took the cansetest screening test but came back green and yellow which suggests Bv or Trichomoniasis. I have no smell from my vagina, never have. I have severe itching, discharge which is sometime thin and sometime thick and sticky. When I've used products for thrush they have never worked. Is that because it's something else? My husband has never had any problems and we have unprotected sex so thought he might have had it by now. Can anyone help?





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I found out I had bacterial vaginosis, and I stated using balance activ pessaries to treat it. After first use, I noticed it stung, which it stated it would do, but then as I continued to use it, the stinging got worse, to the point I couldn't sleep any more. On the last day of using the balance activ, I went to bed as normal and then woke up at 3am to searing pain in my vaginal area. I mean crying and couldn't walk, sit or even stand up properly without pain cutting through me. My mum being a nurse, told me to go run a back and just clean myself gently. Spent an hour in the bath as it was soothing the pain slightly. Ended up sleeping without anything on my bottom half, and eventually went back to sleep. Next day my mum looked at my genital area and said that it looks like I've been burnt or an acid burn type, and red raw and swollen. Could I have possibly had a reaction to it? and why does it say it's safe, when clearly it's not? The packaging didn't even have a side affects or rare side affects a lor anything like that. I am now on a different kind of antibiotics for something that should've been treated for already. Balance activ to me, is the worst thing ever. What do you think might very caused this to happen? I feel like I'm an idiot for even trying treat it myself. Thanks in advance Danielle





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Hi.I'm 55 and menopausal at the moment I have had bv for a year. My gp has prescibed the oral anti biotics but it came back. Then the cream you insert into your vagina. It came back. I won't have sex with my husband as I am concious of the smell and I am very depressed with the situation. I have also bought so many natural supplements but nothing is working. So sad





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Hi.I'm 55 and menopausal at the moment I have had bv for a year. My gp has prescibed the oral anti biotics but it came back. Then the cream you insert into your vagina. It came back. I won't have sex with my husband as I am concious of the smell and I am very depressed with the situation. I have also bought so many natural supplements but nothing is working. So sad





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I am 20 and have 7 sexual partners. I was recently diagnosed with chlamydia and had the treatment to clear it. Now I think I have BV. I can literally smell myself even when sitting down. There is no itching/ burning etc but I literally just feel as though I smell really bad. It only happens when I wear underwear so I'm pretty sure it's my discharge that smells fishy. It's really getting me down as I don't know what more I can do!





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I started having bv after having a coil fitted at the age of 39, never had it till then but doctors assured me it's nothing to do with that. I have to call doctors every 3 months for antibiotics when it returns have had all tests etc done, looks like I'm just stuck with it now and hate it cause partner notices straight away before I do, very un dignifying and unpleasant





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I empathise with you.i too have suffered with recurring BV for that 5 months.Driving me insane..4 lots of antibiotics and a week or 2 after finishing the course it comes back. I'm so conscious of the smell..and trying to get to the doctors is also a nightmare with my shift pattern at work.like you, I have resigned myself to bein "stuck" with it..apart from work I try not to socialise for fear of others being able to smell the disgusting odour..good luck.

I'm 13 and have been diagnosed with vaginitis but I've searched up it and none have said they have spots around the vagina also does it ever go away





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I am 19 and have been having discharge for about eight years. I did not know this was abnormal for many years until I began having intercourse three years ago. Since becoming sexually active the discharge has become worse, with an unpleasant smell and being grey/green in colour and quite thick and frothy. I have tried many products for thrush and have had scans on my ovaries which found nothing. What could be causing this and how could I solve this? I have been living with this for eight years now and have had enough.





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Im 21 and had bv on and of for about 2 years i used the gel for 7 days and it cleared the bv but shortly after it was back i used antibiotics and im bv free.. i strongly recomend going tk the docs for tablets rather than the gel as is isnt that effective





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Do you have to take antibiotics or can you just use a bv gel to clear?





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